The UK's longest mountain bike trail accessed by a gondola has been officially opened in the Scottish Highlands.

The Nevis Range Blue Doon was launched at 10am today by TV presenters and keen cyclists Fred MacAulay and Dougie Vipond and local rider, 12-year-old Kyler MacLeod, who was the first to try the new track.

At 650m up on the mountain of Aonach Mor, the start is accessed using the Nevis Range Mountain Gondola.

The top section of the trail is on open hill side with panoramic views across Fort William and Loch Linnhe. It then heads into the forest and joins a network of trails in the lower forest at Nevis Range, finishing at the car park.

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Blue intermediate trails are about one-third narrower than green trails at an average width of 24-inches and will also offer unavoidable obstacles much larger than those found on green trails such as roots, rocks, and drops that are up to 8-inches tall.

The Nevis Range Mountain Experience lies south of the village of Spean Bridge and seven miles north of Fort William, which was named outdoor capital of the UK in recent years.  

HeraldScotland:

It was opened in 1989 to develop a skiing and tourism facility on the mountain of Aonach Mor in response to growing demand for skiing in Scotland that was inadequately served by existing facilities.

The mountain gondola is unique in the UK and was originally constructed to transport skiers and snowboarders to the slopes. 

Today, it whisks some 200,000 visitors each year to the restaurant, 650m up the mountain and is also widely used by hillwalkers, climbers, paragliders and hang gliders. There are 74 Gondolas in total and each one takes up to 6 adults.

Nevis Range also boasts a world-class downhill mountain bike track together with a series of cross-country mountain bike trails in the Leanachan Forest. 

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The venue has hosted UK and international mountain bike events including several award-winning rounds of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup since 2002 and a UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in 2007.

John Sutherland, Activities Director at Nevis Range, said: “Construction of the trail has taken over two years and required a colossal amount of work from our trail team and has seen all hands-on deck.

“We are extremely proud that 99% of the material has come from our own hill side and really ties into our attitudes as a sustainable business."

Chris O’Brien, Managing Director of Nevis Range, said: “Blue Doon is a game changer for the Nevis Range Development Company.

"The current lift served downhill tracks are awesome including the world-renowned Mountain Bike World Cup Downhill track. 

"However, as they are graded Black and Orange, we really wanted to add a Blue trail to open-up the riding opportunities to a wider audience."

“SportScotland and HIE have supported this project, not just for the commercial benefits, but because at Nevis Range we have a commitment to both expanding the sport and helping create national and international champions of tomorrow."

Nevis Range has said there will be more announcements in the coming months including new races, other special events and bike apprenticeships.